Confirming what had become a speculation among the tech community for sometime now, Microsoft has said that it will be moving Edge to the Chromium platform. Chromium is what powers Google’s Chrome.
Along with the Chromium switch, Edge will also be coming to MacOS — almost 15 years after Internet Explorer abandoned the Mac environment. In addition to that, Microsoft has also announced that they will be detaching updates for Edge from that of Windows, essentially bringing Edge to Windows 7 and 8 users.
Getting to Chromium had been on the charts for quite some time now, and the reasons for this switch have by and large been like a ‘writing on the wall’. To start with, despite a highly anticipated and talked about launch, Edge still could not gain any significant share of the market whatsoever. Such is the state, that its older peer Internet Explorer still holds almost 2.5 times of Edge’s own market share.
Incompatibility is another issue Edge and the team at Microsoft failed to look into. Developers across, have largely built websites and web-apps compatible with Chrome (and hence the Chromium platform) due its completely open-sourced code. Edge on the other hand is partially open-sourced, does not work on Macs and has updates linked to that of Windows. As a result, while millions of older Windows users are left behind, even those with Windows 10 do not get timely updates as workplaces tend to lag behind in the same.
With the Chromium switch, Microsoft hopes that incompatibility will be a thing of the past and features like Cortana, along with several other Edge-specific integrations could help it attract users to the browser. The switch will also help Microsoft get more deeply involved with the Chromium project. We may even see the company contributing substantially to the same, as it has already started partnering with Google on similar initiatives involving Windows 10 and ARM. Web developers will have a less-fragmented web platform to test their sites against, ensuring that there are fewer problems and increased satisfaction for users of their sites.
So when will the switch happen ? Not anytime soon. Considering how browsers are perhaps the most complex piece of coded stuff we have on our PCs, the switch would take time. There’s no code to test today and the first previews are still quite some months away. But at some point in 2019, Microsoft’s EdgeHTML and Chakra will go away and Blink and V8 will take its place. The company expects to release a first developer preview early next year.